On a personal mission to visit every country around Europe this was the main reason which took me to Andorra.
Europe has a handful of these micro-nations and I’ve had a lot of fun visiting them all along the way as it makes for unique and random adventures in the middle of nowhere.
Andorra is trapped between Spain and France amongst the Pyrenees.
Andorra is ranked as the 6th smallest country in Europe behind Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino, Liechtenstein, and Malta.
Andorra doesn’t have an international airport and without a rental car you will struggle to get here. But need not to worry, you do have an easy solution if you wish to take public transport.
After several attempts to reach Andorra from the French side using public transport through the Pyrenees, I quickly learned that the easiest way to reach Andorra is on a day trip from Barcelona by bus.
Those with a Eurail or Interrail pass will have to opt for this bus option as you can’t take the train to Andorra (I learned about this before it was too late a few years ago and ended up travelling through the Pyrenees on a small yellow train).
ALSA – The Spanish national coach company offer many options for Barcelona Nord bus station to Andorra La Vella, Andorra.
It’s easy to take a day out of your sightseeing weekend around Barcelona to visit Andorra on a day trip.
Journey time can take from 3-4 hours depending on what time you depart and which type of bus/route you take.
The bus has free WiFi on board, toilet facilities and even a movie on two screens (if your Spanish is good enough). Best to bring some water and snacks on board as the bus doesn’t stop along the way. On my return journey my ALSA bus was a supreme model, which had leather seats and personal screens, slightly more fancy.
The first ALSA bus to Andorra from Barcelona Nord bus station departs at 07:00. This is pretty early, but you will arrive in Andorra just before lunch.
You can take the next departure bus at 10:30am if you fancy a sleep-in and want to grab some breakfast before you depart – the option is up to you.
I stayed at Hostel Ant which is a short 7-minute walk around the corner from Barcelona Nord bus station. I paid €15 per night for a 4-bed dorm and this included breakfast with the stay. Perfect location for grabbing the early morning bus to Andorra.
To buy your ticket to Andorra you can purchase a day return ticket in advance online on the ALSA website or you can do what I did which is using the electronic ticket machine located on the bus platform.
It’s of course advised to book your seat in advance, especially in the peak visitor season of winter (Andorra has great skiing), weekends and summer time period.
I was visiting in the low season and the 10:30 bus was half full.
Remember to bring along a good book on your Kindle to pass the long journey time. Also remember to look out the window along the way and enjoy the stunning scenery of Costa Brava along the way to Andorra. It’s an enjoyable scenic route.
For return times you can stay overnight and get a bus in the morning. Due to great hostel prices in Barcelona I didn’t really have a need to stay overnight as you can enjoy exploring Andorra in a day if you wish. I found a day visit was enough to do everything.
If you grab the 07:00 or 10:30 then your return time would be either 15:00 or 19:00.
As I was on the 10:30 I opted for the 19:00 return to give me more time.
This means you will return to Barcelona at around 22:00 but as the Spanish culture is more geared towards eating late you might still find bars open for dinner. Maybe the 07:00 early start might work out as a better option for some.
I booked both tickets including my return leg in Barcelona and the cost for both tickets came to just under €60.00 for the day trip journey.
What to do with your day in Andorra?
Andorra is a tucked away pocket of European culture, bringing in influences from its neighbouring countries, Spain and France. Catalan is the official language of Andorra but you can also hear Spanish and French spoken there.
Andorra used to be hard to reach, but with much needed road improvements it’s possible to explore this micro-nation for the day.
Andorra La Vella is the highest European city. It stands 1,000 metres above sea level and offers stunning mountain views and even a chance to go skiing in the winter months. Saying that, Andorra still offers wonderful hiking in the summer time too.
If you would like to gather maps of the surrounding hiking routes, you can find these in the Andorra tourism information centre.
Mostly weekend visitors flock to Andorra La Vella for the wonderful tax-free shopping prices on offer.
Saying that, the capital city does lack an alpine charm considering the country is a popular ski location. You can still find a handful of stone-built alpine buildings scattered around the city.
For those wanting to ski you can find two main resorts, Vallnord in the north and Grandvalira in the south, but that would be for a different Andorra occasion than a quick day trip visit.
What’s it like to visit Andorra La Vella
If you love shopping and want to make the most out of the tax-free shopping prices, Andorra La Vella is the place for you and it won’t be a wasted trip.
The city is pretty in the sense that it is more of a town than a city and can easily be walked around within a few hours.
I just wanted to be clear that I was visiting Andorra on a day trip to visit every country in Europe and a day trip was enough time to enjoy the town.
However, the beauty of Andorra can be seen best by getting out of Andorra La Vella and enjoying the skiing and hiking possibilities.
If you want to spend more time hiking and skiing, I do encourage this.
I found my 5-hour visit enough time to explore all of Andorra La Vella. You can find a nice old town to walk around, shopping streets, places to eat lunch and dinner as well as grab a coffee and see some sites.
Andorra has a handful of museums you can visit as well, and you will find out more about them at the tourism information office.
Andorra La Vella is pretty small, and a few hours is enough to explore. If you head towards the mountains of the old town you can find a small hiking route that will take you to a scenic panoramic spot to get a good view over the city from above.
The hike takes around 30 minutes. On my visit, a rock landslide had cut off half of the trail, so you won’t be able to hike the whole route but it’s worth the walk for the view over Andorra La Vella from the mountain side.
I hope you found my blog post about travelling to Andorra La Vella, Andorra useful and I wish you an awesome future trip to this interesting micro-nation.
Checking out my Youtube video of Andorra La Vella:
Check out my Andorra Instagram photo: